Azalina Urged to Act Against BH over ‘Fake News’ on Falling Car Prices

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De facto law minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said should take action against Berita Harian (BH) for publishing a purportedly misleading report on car prices, according to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

The Umno-linked Malay daily published a story on Feb 4 which claimed that car prices had dropped since 2013 as a result of “the government’s automotive policy” and “the strengthening of the ringgit”.

The report with the headline ‘Menepati janji manifesto BN’ (Fulfilling BN’s election pledge) had an accompanying infographic comparing prices for various local, Japanese and European cars that had allegedly dropped between 2.25% and 20.77% since 2013.

Prominent automotive blog paultan.org has disputed the report, pointing out that BH compared different variants for the same model and used inaccurate pricing information.

“For example, the BH article had compared the 2013 Perodua Alza’s 1.5 SE Manual model with the 2018 Standard Manual model to show a 14.18% reduction in price.

paultan.org

“For the Proton Exora, the newspaper had even used an inflated price for its 2013 comparison to further exaggerate the decrease. Instead of using the original price at 2013, it used the 2016 price, which came after price increase across the range.

“Worse, the report even included insurance for its ‘2013’ price whereas the current price stated does not include insurance,” he said in a statement.

“So, it’s clear that the new versus old prices in the report were cherry-picked for convenience, without taking into account variants and specifications. Based on the old prices we’ve dug up, it appears that car prices have not come down by much in general,” the blog said.

Pua asked if Azalina, who has been tasked with tabling an anti-fake news bill in the next parliamentary sitting, would instruct the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) or the home ministry to act against BH for publishing the report.

“If she doesn’t, then it is clear that she is not sincere in ensuring an anti-fake news bill which is fair, and which will not be abused by the BN government to punish opposition critics and whistleblowers,” the DAP MP said.